Fresh from another EFL clean sweep Adrian Clarke returns with another two selections for the weekend, kicking off in West London on Friday night!
It was nice to see all three tips land from last weekend’s EFL column.
Despite starting the day level on points Fleetwood Town ran riot at home to Plymouth Argyle (who did indeed suffer a long, long journey home!) & Millwall v Cardiff pleasingly served up the low scoring draw I’d tipped. Fingers crossed, we can get lucky again….
Hoping For Another Dynamite Derby In West London
Some local derbies have a history of serving uptight, nervy bore fests but that’s not the case in the not-so-posh west London derby between Brentford and Queens Park Rangers.
The last eight clashes between the Bees and the R’s have all rewarded punters that backed over 2.5 goals.
Averaging four goals a game in a run stretching back to 2017 they are neighbours who are happy to slug it out in positive, entertaining affairs.
Playing behind closed doors at the shiny new Brentford Community Stadium will not help maintain this welcome tradition of course, but front-foot football is very much the mantra for both head coaches.
QPR under Mark Warburton know where their strengths lie – and it’s not at the back!
For this reason, attack is often the best form of defence for the Hoops who have scored in each of the last five matches.
Bright Osayi-Samuel was in sensational form in their 3-2 victory over Rotherham United in midweek, and when he’s had his Weetabix his teammates are often inspired. The wide man is incredibly exciting to watch when he’s in full flow.
QPR matches average 2.54 goals this term, the 5th highest in the Championship and they will be encouraged by Brentford’s iffy home form.
Winning just two of six games at their new pad, Warburton (who used to manage Brentford of course) will send his troops out to battle with a message of ‘go for it’.
Thomas Frank’s men have actually been involved in some low-scoring affairs of late but try not to let that put you off too much.
They are in essence an adventurous outfit and in the shape of 11-goal Ivan Toney they have a top class marksman leading the line.
Helped by creators Mbuemo, Da Silva, Marcondes and Fosu-Henry he will back himself to find the net against the third leakiest defence in the division.
The Bees are worthy favourites but a little too short for my liking (1.65) so it’s the goals market where the value lies.
Over 2.5 goals at 1.81 is my selection for Friday night’s local tear-up.
It may not be the most glamorous west London derby but it is often the most exciting.
Will The Hornets Provide Alex Neil With A Final Sting?
Preston North End looked like a team that had stopped playing for their boss on Tuesday night. Outplayed from start to finish by local rivals Blackburn Rovers, they failed to muster a single shot on target in a miserable 3-0 home defeat.
Even before Joe Rafferty’s dismissal, there was no life, no energy, no passion.
Unsurprisingly the local press described it as the tamest performance of Alex Neil’s 40 months in charge.
Sat in 15th place – and despite having an extraordinarily strong away record – PNE fans are now united in wanting the Scot removed from his post.
Neil’s players know this weekend’s match could seal his fate and it’s an uncomfortable place to be.
Some might fancy a change, others won’t know how they feel about it, and those who are desperate for the manager to stay can sometimes be affected by the pressure of knowing what’s at stake.
Watford away is certainly not the kind of fixture Alex Neil would choose this Saturday.
The Hornets may not have blown anyone in the Championship away yet (they have only won by a two-goal margin once) but Vladimir Ivic has made them very tough to beat.
Winning five of six home games, drawing the other against Bournemouth, the promotion-chasing Hornets should be priced up less generously than 2.0 for the win.
In a new 4-3-3 shape, Ivic was happy with the performance in a goalless draw at Bristol City on Wednesday, praising his players’ aggressive pressing and energized spirit.
If they perform in that vain against a North End side that’s low on morale at Vicarage Road you’d have to fancy them to maintain a formidable home record.
In this three-game-a-week demanding merry-go-round, Watford are also far better equipped to cope than Preston.
Their squad is deep enough to rest and rotate without disruption, and this could be the right moment to unleash fit-again Troy Deeney from the start.
The talented Joao Pedro and Andre Gray plus highly-rated winger Ismaila Sarr are three other reasons to fancy the Hornets to score this weekend.
They are a better side than Preston, in a significantly better frame of mind.
And with automatic promotion a realistic target they should swot Alex Neil’s men aside.
- Brentford v Queens Park Rangers Over 2.5 goals at 1.81
- Watford to beat Preston North End at 2.0